A new open wing at the central prison is set to be opened by the end of the month, Justice Minister Marios Hartsiotis said on Friday.

Hartsiotis was speaking following a meeting with Diko Leader Nikolas Papadopoulos and said the opening of the new wing is part of “immediate actions which will have results within the next few days” to alleviate the problem of overcrowding at the central prison.

The opening of this wing, he said, would allow for the relocation of a number of convicts and people awaiting trial, and thus reduce pressure on the rest of the prison.

Additionally, he said, reconstruction of the previous open prison building will be complete by September, allowing it to re-enter service and house inmates.

He said these two buildings will reduce overcrowding in the central prison by around 30 per cent, adding that reducing prison overcrowding “is considered very important under the difficult circumstances of our time.”

In addition to the erection of new buildings, he said, there will be “other tangible results within the year in terms of modernisation of prisons.”

However, he said, some of these policies “are related to public safety and cannot be announced.”

As well as the matter of overcrowding in prisons, he also said he “had the opportunity to tell Papadopoulos about the goals of the Christodoulides government in a wide range of matters concerning justice, the police, prisons, immigration, and others.”

He added that the government’s programme “is not just about goals, but about already tangible results in the area of justice reform.”

With this in mind, he said the government has developed its priorities to deal with the “real burning issues which it faces.” He added that he had taken the time to listen to Diko’s proposals, describing them as “really useful and very beneficial.”

He thanked Papadopoulos for “the opinions, suggestions, and positions, but above all the cooperation which I expect will be even stronger for the good of our country, our Cyprus.”

Papadopoulos described the meeting as “very useful and constructive.”

“We had the opportunity to hear the challenges facing this ministry, but also the prospect of solving various issues which directly concern society and the Cypriot state,” he said.

He added that Cypriot citizens “have the right to live with a sense of security”, and that therefore, issues such as organised crime, modernising the prison system, dealing with immigration, and violence at football matches must be priorities for the justice ministry.

To this end, he said Diko will be “fully supportive” of the government.

He added his belief that people should have the right to “both quick and fair” justice, and that for this to be achieved, “we want to see justice reform implemented in practice.”

“We told Hartsiotis our own suggestions on how this infrastructure can be better improved, how we can better proceed with the modernisations of our prisons and our penitentiary system, how alternative ways of adjudicating cases can be promoted, and much more,” he said.

He also touched on the matter of immigration, saying “we consisder immigration to be an issue which should be dealt with effectively by the state,” calling for improvement to the relevant infrastructure “so that the correct deportation and return procedures can be followed.

He added that Diko “will stand by Hartsiotis in this difficult task he is undertaking.”